TUPELO, Miss. (WCBI Sports) - It’s one of, if not the, fastest-growing sports in the country. Lacrosse, specifically women’s lacrosse, is taking hold in Mississippi.
Even though no colleges in the state are one of the 100 Division I college teams, and it hasn’t caught on at the high school level, the club competition is seeing interest. Lacrosse is extremely popular in the northeastern United States, and the fastest game on two feet is gaining speed in the magnolia state.
Ole Miss, Mississippi State and Southern Miss gathered at Ballard Park in Tupelo this weekend to play a round robin tournament.
“Mississippi is slowly but surely growing women’s lacrosse teams,” Niki Eisgruber, a MSU junior who helped start State’s team, said. ”It’s mostly club teams right now but we’re actually playing Ole Miss and they joined an official conference in the South called the SWLL.”
The teams are a mix of women from outside Mississippi who have lacrosse experience and those from here who are learning the game
“Most of our girls are from the Northeast or the west coast,” junior Ole Miss captain Rachel Zurheide said. “We’ve had a couple girls come out and learn and some of them stick with it which is great because we want to see lacrosse grow in the South.”
There have been difficulties with starting up a sport that hardly anyone else plays for miles around.
“It was hard to get the equipment and the team support from a lot of people,” Eisgruber said.
While the men’s club teams are more established, the Ole Miss team is the oldest of the women’s squads at five years running, State’s team is in its second year, and Southern Miss in its third.
“The hardest challenge I’ve run into is trying to teach every single girl on the field how to play, positions I haven’t played before,” Sarah Hassell, a senior who helped start Southern Miss’ team, said. ”I definitely think it’s going to grow in Mississippi it’s just going to take time. I think it’s going to grow even more because you have to travel to your competition now so teams are going to want to be forming so you don’t have to travel as much.”
These teams travel as far as a days drive to play other clubs. It’s taken dedication to get the ball rolling, but it’s obvious that “lax” is finding a home in Mississippi.